Presidency 'rejects' narrative on BHP, Anglo American proposed deal

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Presidency has moved to dismiss media speculation and reports that BHP Billiton’s proposed takeover of Anglo American, excluding South African assets, is a sign of reluctance to invest in the country.

This is according to Presidential Spokesperson Vincent Magwenya who was briefing the media in Pretoria on Monday.

Anglo American mines diamonds, Platinum Group Metals (PGM) and iron ore in South Africa.

“Some analysts and sections of the media have sought to portray this market activity as a vote of no confidence on South Africa. The Presidency rejects the notion that a commercial approach by BHP Billiton equals to a hostile environment for investors,” he said.

Magwenya said the issues cited in media that impact doing business in South Africa are being resolved “with the participation and partnership of business”.

“In June 2023, President Cyril Ramaphosa along with members of his Cabinet and senior business leaders agreed to establish a partnership to reverse the economic downturn and rebuild confidence in the country’s trajectory.

“Three priorities were identified as undermining investor and societal confidence, namely: load shedding, the challenges in the freight logistics sector as well as crime and corruption.”

Magwenya said the collaborative government-business partnership has resulted in many initiatives including the Joint Initiative on Crime and Corruption (JICC).

“The [JICC] was established to drive collaborative efforts to tackle the most serious forms of crime and corruption and support government’s efforts to remove South Africa off the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] greylist. The [JICC] is an example of government’s commitment to work with social partners to foster a safer and a more ethical South Africa,” he said.

He told the media that government’s own efforts to rebuild the credibility of critical law enforcement has resulted in, among others, appointing new leadership in the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the State Security Agency (SSA) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

This has resulted in significant progress in the fight against corruption and crime including:

  • The recruitment of 20 000 more police officers and an additional 4 000 public order policing members.
  • Establishing of 20 specialised SAPS economic infrastructure task teams to tackle illegal mining, construction site extortion, cable theft and vandalism to infrastructure. They had, by November 2023, made at least 7000 arrests.
  • Since 2019, the NPA recorded an average conviction rate of some 91% in high courts, 82% in regional courts and 95% in district courts.
  • At least 34 state capture and corruption matters have been taken to court by the NPA Investigating Directorate involving 203 accused and 65 entities.
  • Since 2019, the NPA has secured the conviction of more than 500 government officials and nearly 800 people in the private sector on corruption related offences.
  • The corruption busting Special Investigating Unit has recovered some R8.6 billion of stolen funds from corrupt individuals.
  • The NPA Asset Forfeiture Unit has obtained freezing orders worth some R14 billion related to State Capture with some R5.4 billion returned to state coffers.

“While much still needs to be achieved to turn the tide around completely, the significant steps taken to rebuild credible institutions have begun to bear fruit and set the stage for further progress. President Ramaphosa will continue leading a multi-stakeholder effort to accelerate existing government interventions to address the scourge of crime and the impact on the economy.

“This partnership should reassure both local and foreign investors that considerable resources and expertise are being leveraged in government and in the private sector to curtail crime, continue improving the functionality of our ports and enable an investor and societal environment that fosters inclusive economic growth and prosperity,” he said.

Investment appetite

Magwenya pointed towards the success of the SA Investment Conference which, over five years, reached R1.5 trillion in investment pledges as an indicator of investment appetite in South Africa.

“President Ramaphosa also finds it satisfying that both domestic and international investors continue to demonstrate confidence towards South Africa through their continued investments as evidenced in the last few years and in exceeding the investment targets set at the beginning of the term. President Ramaphosa is confident that the rebuilt capacity of the state remains firm and focused on responding to crime and corruption.

“The Presidency would implore the investor community to note the optimism expressed by the business community in various publications and platform on the progress achieved across the three focal areas. This should reassure investors that momentum is building and will be maintained to reduce crime and corruption, continue improving energy supply and resolve logistic backlogs,” Magwenya said. –